Breath work Integration
An Open Up breathwork session can be an intense and deep experience. You may have gone through some physical and emotional experiences which can leave you being more receptive to the environment around you. It can open unfamiliar states of consciousness; this can be filled with insights, yet also uncover unhealed spaces within us. Despite some of the powerful and transformative experiences that one may have, the practice of integration learns us how to bring these extraordinary experiences forward in our lives to create the wholeness that we were able to foretaste during the session. Dedicating time and space to your inner journey is the process that we call “integration.”
What is "Integrating" our experience mean?
Often what is meant by “integrating” is that one day we will “get over it,” “transcend” it, “outgrow” it. In our experience there are some things that happen to us that we will never “get over”. Instead, the integration process learns us how we can accept those parts to become part of us in a healthy and responsible way. The goal is to find a larger home for it. This will never unwind in an environment of abandonment and aggression. Therefore "Integration" is a process that requires compassion to discover a place inside us where we can hold and contain our experience. By doing so we can start to make sense of what happened in new ways that can illuminate the tendency to dissociate.
Letting go is something different that integrating your process.
When we integrate we re-organise ourselves and learn to train ourselves to re-inhabit our bodies – even in the face of something profoundly disturbing. The practice is of meeting the uniqueness of our lived, direct experience, and replace them with new words – re-authoring the story of who we are, where we can begin to weave a more "integrated" narrative of our lives. There are many ways to help you to begin to trust in the validity of your experience.
How much time should you dedicate to Breathwork integration?
It depends on several things and you can ask yourself the following questions:
How deep and/or powerful was my session?
How much did I release emotionally and/or physically?
Did I feel overwhelmed by the experience?
How did I end my session, how did I feel?
Generally speaking, the more your answers are of a heightened state for these questions, the more you should plan to give yourself some integration time.
WAYS OF INTEGRATING
1. SELF-CARE & RESOURCING FOR YOUR BODY
You may feel a bit “spaced out”, so take extra care when driving, cycling or operating any sort of machinery.
Give yourself space and (quiet) time for reflection. You may be more open and vulnerable than usual. Take time for yourself, do not force yourself to socialise with people if it does not feel right or to feel obliged to share your experience, breakthrough or insight(s).
Your body may react to the session for a couple of days which is a natural part of the process. The breathing can stir up a lot in your body and can trigger a need for your body to flush out your system. Symptoms may include: irregular sleeping (either you need more or less sleep), tiredness, or more energy. Shifts in digestion (constipation), sensory experiences (metallic taste, tingling sensation in fingers and toes) and muscular pain.
Get adequate rest and sleep
Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water
Eat nourishing light foods
Spend time in nature if possible
Move your body with gently exercises or stretches (i.e. walking, stretching, yoga)
Nurture your body (i.e. massage, bath)
2. SELF-CARE & SUPPORT FOR YOUR EMOTIONS
It is quite normal to feel more emotional than usual. Intense feelings can well up. This is a natural part of the process. Try to allow the release and see if you can watch the feelings as they come up.
Try not to go straight into your normal daily routine for at least 2 hours after your session.
It is helpful to view the breathwork session(s) as an ongoing process that doesn’t have a specific set ending. Each session will be held and bring about a sense of completion, however, in the larger picture we prefer to look at this work as an ongoing exploration into yourself.
There can be a strong urge to analyse and understand your experiences. Try to remember that this work is not purely mental, in fact, the mind is surpassed and we drop straight into our inner physical and emotional worlds. Give it time to feel and let the mental process of understanding unfold naturally.
3. AVOID MAKING IMPULSIVE, IMPORTANT DECISIONS
Certain insights from the session can have a direct impact on your daily life.
Make sure to ground yourself and wait at least a week before making any impulsive and important life changing decisions based on those insights.
Dialogue with someone you trust about decisions you are considering and ask for objective feedback.
4. SHARING YOUR PROCESS / EXPERIENCE WITH SOMEONE YOU TRUST
If you feel you would like to share your experiences, make sure to find someone who is present, open and ready to hold the space for what you want to share without judgement or advice. It often helps if the person you choose has done something similar or another form of inner work, as people with no experience may find it hard to receive what you are trying to put into words.
If you are currently working with a therapist, you can make an appointment to share your breathwork experience if that feels right.
Use discretion regarding whom you discuss your experience; avoid sharing with those whom would attempt to discount or invalidate your experience.
Staying consciously connected to you breathing can become part of your integration if it feels comfortable. A 5-10 minute daily practice could be a start. Other practices we like to suggest are:
Meditation, paying attention to any “material” surfacing from your psyche.
Writing/journaling. We suggest Julia Cameron's Morning Pages
Moving your body, allow your body to move/dance spontaneously and authentically.
Attend to and work with your dreams. You are closest to your unconscious in your dreams and more important material might surface in the days following the breathwork. If you remember your dreams, write them down.
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